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  • Fairbury News staff

Future of buildings discussed

(PC Elementary, formerly Westview Elementary, is shown in Fairbury this week)

A study on the buildings in the Prairie Central school district was presented to members of the PC school board’s Building and Grounds Committee Thursday.

Architect Craig W. Wright of Wright and Associates, Inc. in Metamora answered questions and shared information with the board members in attendance. The study breaks down exterior and interior work, such as roofs, tuck pointing, windows, painting, fire protection, plumbing, security and heating systems.

Prairie Central Superintendent Paula Crane pointed out poor efficiency windows at Chatsworth and windows at the high school which are meant to be awning windows.

“The question is how far down the road do you want to kick the can?” asked Crane. “It’s been kicked a long way.”

Crane said there are elective priorities she recommends they put on the list.

“We do have roofs on the schedule. Tuck pointing needs to be done.”

Wright explained air conditioning and heating would be a study by itself that will take engineers. Around $50 a square foot is an estimate for what it takes to air condition currently. A mini split system is available which heats and cools but the unit needs power to it.

School mechanical codes require outside air to be fed into the schools.

Crane expressed concerns over old equipment in buildings, such as boilers. For instance, the Chatsworth boiler is old and there are no parts for it. Maintenance head Tyler Webster pointed to issues at Prairie Central Elementary last winter when a pipe broke during the extreme cold.

Board member Brad Duncan feels it would be a never-ending cycle to start upgrades at each school year after year. He likes the idea of building something new to make the district more efficient.

“At least you are up to date with a new structure,” Duncan said.

Crane noted if something new was built in the district, newer buildings such as the Junior High and High School addition would remain and likely the Upper Elementary since the building is not in bad shape. Crane shared enrollment numbers from last year which included 278 at PC Primary West in Chenoa, 144 at PC Primary East in Chatsworth, 320 at Prairie Central Elementary, 237 at Prairie Central Upper Elementary, 230 at PC Junior High and 520 at the High School.

“The biggest thing we need to think about is what’s more efficient in the end,” added Duncan.

Board member John Wilken said the district could not pick and choose what to close for balance reasons. Crane cannot imagine a new grade school anywhere but Fairbury. They are struggling with plumbing at Prairie Central Elementary which is in need of a gym.

Wright estimated it would take three years to build a new building while still having to maintain the old ones. Duncan suggested the district make a decision to keep fixing things up or go before the public.

“I think we have to do our homework to figure out our options,” explained Wilken.

Wilken said the trend of consolidation has made transportation more difficult and he suggested the district up its transportation game if it wants a referendum to pass.

Creating a new building isn’t expected to impact jobs other than possible changes in administration.

“This is a pretty complicated equation,” admitted Wright.

Basic information will be presented to the full board during its regular Aug. 17 monthly meeting in Fairbury. There seems to be enough interest to pursue options for new buildings.

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